The Case For Photodisinfection

Biofilm Stages of Development - Source: Wiki Commons

Humans are multicellular creatures each comprised of trillions of cells. Oddly enough, bacteria in our bodies outnumber our human cells by 10:1, although their size is, on average, about one tenth of a human cell. When seen in this light, humans really are part human and part bacteria.  We are dependent on the maintenance of a delicate balance between human cells and bacterial cells for good health as we coexist with bacteria in a symbiotic relationship. There are estimated to be between 500-1,000 species of bacteria living in the human gut and skin.  Some of our bacteria are known to perform certain tasks that are critical. Without our bacteria, for instance, we would be unable to digest and process our food intake.  These commensal bacteria are widely known as our “flora”. Too many of any one kind of bacteria, and we are left in poor health. Bacteria, therefore, play a very important role in human health and human disease.

Bacteria have learned to create protective environments called biofilms.  Biofilms form when single celled organisms living in moist environments adhere to a specific tissue or site and begin a process of excreting a sticky, carbohydrate slime.  Using a process involving biochemical interactions, bacteria can be anchored to all kinds of material and can attract and adjoin with other microorganisms, for protection or nutritional advantages, building with time a complex yet structured community known as a biofilm.  Together as a community of microorganisms, the biofilm is able to withstand greater external forces including physical abrasion, antibiotics and the human body’s natural immune defences. Biofilm becomes an ideal environment in which bacteria and other pathogens can flourish. Pathogens inside the biofilm structure are able to communicate with each other through mechanisms such as quorum sensing and engage in resource sharing activities to promote biofilm growth. As a response to the assertive communication and defense mechanisms of biofilm, the human body generates both defensive and offensive strategies, often with unpleasant consequences. The bacteria in biofilms can be up to 1,000 times more difficult to kill than free-floating planktonic bacteria. It is thought that 60-80% of human infections are biofilms.

The ability to target and instantly destroy biofilm infections without harming human tissue is therefore a major breakthrough technology. Combining this with an ability to also target virulence factors and inflammatory molecules, this technology offers the potential to address a number of today’s large unmet medical needs. Photodisinfection is this technology, and  Periowave™ is the leading photodisinfection product for the dental market.

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